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INTRODUCTION AFRICAN TECHECOSYSTEMS OF THE FUTURE 2021/22


This combination of talent and


cost savings is attracting big names to the continent. In 2019, Microsoft announced plans to spend more than $100m over five years on its first development centres in Africa, in Nairobi and Lagos. Engineers will be recruited for the centres to work on technologies such as AI and machine learning. Kenya topped the Human Capital and Lifestyle cate- gory, thanks to its high number of coding schools and a significant number of universities. Where educational institutions


such as universities can be slow to match the skills needed by the pri- vate sector, more agile institutions such as coding hubs provide a fast and dynamic way to quickly upskill the local population. Ghana also per- formed well in Human Capital and Lifestyle, achieving second place and showcasing the country’s commit- ment to technology education. In 2007, the Ghana Education Service formally introduced ICT as a compul- sory subject at primary school and the number of universities in the country has seen a drastic increase, frombelow 10 in 1990 to more than 60 in 2021. This bodes well for Ghana’s tech ecosystem, with Google opening its first African AI research centre in the capital, Accra.


Improving business environment Ease of doing business in Africa has been improving in recent years, with some countries showing more pro- gress than others.Morocco, forexam- ple, has set in motion has set in motion ambitious reform agendas, which gained the country second place in the Business Friendliness category of fDi’s African Tech Ecosystems of the Future rank ing, just behind South Africa. Morocco’s favourable environ-


ment has proven popular with inves- tors, as the country counted the highest number of jobs created by inward FDI between 2015 and 2020. Tunisia also stood out in the busi- ness friendliness category, and has been active in policy innovation within this area. The country has pioneered start-up regulations with the introduction of a Start-Up Act in 2018. Similar acts are now being implemented across Africa. There has been significant regula-


tory reform across the continent in relation to business friendliness, with Rwanda showing particular improvement. In the 17 years of the


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World Bank’s Doing Business reports, Rwanda is among the world’s top reformers. Its success is particularly impressive in the context of the coun- try’s civil war, which ended in 1994 and had a devastating impact on the local population and economy. Over the past 20 years, the Rwandan gov- ernment has collaborated with the business environment and it is now possible to set up a business in less than one day online. In order to improve business


friendliness, the Kenyan industriali- sation ministry partnered with IBM in 2018. By approaching the issue from a data-centric perspective and applying design-thinking methodol- ogies, the team was able to identify key delays and reduce unnecessary interactions.


Infrastructure investment is crucial Access to internet and mobilephones is rapidly improving across the conti- nent, but there is undoubtedly much room for improvement. Morocco scored top for Connectivity, a cate- gory that reveals the countries with the best technological infrastructure from download speed to network readiness. In 2019, theMoroccan gov- ernment signed a $1bn deal with Marco Telecom as part of its plan to proactively invest in the country’s digital infrastructure. The rise in fibre-optic cable usage across Africa is promising, and in 2020 Facebook announced plans to build a 37,000-kilometre-long undersea cable around Africa to provide the region with better internet access. It must be acknowledged that


juxtaposed with tech excellence, Africa’s tech start-up landscape pales in comparison. In 2020, Pitchbook reported that $156.2bn of VC was raised in the US alone; in the same period, African start-ups raised more than $2bn in overall funding in the pst two years, according to Briter Bridges figures. The gap remains massive, but does not cap- ture the progress of the past few years. Disrupt Africa reported that in 2015 just 125 African start-ups secured investment. In 2020, this number had increased to 397. Not only are the numbers of funded start-ups increasing, but the total funding raised by the start-ups has increased each year from 2017. The sector has proven resilient to the pandemic. Now it has to propel Africa to new heights.■


www.fDiIntelligence.com April/May 2021


M-PESA’S SUCCESS LAUNCHED KENYA’S TECH ECOSYSTEM INTO THE SPOTLIGHT


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